Belfast Telegraph

Ireland climate victims' 'lifeboat'

Ireland will act like a lifeboat for people fleeing drought, rising seas and destructive weather in decades to come, a leading climate change expert has warned.

NUI Maynooth Professor Brendan Gleeson said world temperatures will rise three or four degrees, leaving only a few currently cool regions habitable.

He said Ireland cannot refuse to engage with the climate crisis as worse-hit countries will see the island as a safe haven.

"We cannot know precisely how the disaster will unfold, but the southern megacities in Africa, the sub-continental states and Asia will be the first to go under, taking with them a substantial proportion of our species," he said.

"This will generate enormous migratory shifts, as displaced and stressed populations flee the sea level rise and wildly destructive weather."

Prof Gleeson warned that his native Australia may become a place to leave rather than a destination for Irish migrants.

"Australia, the desiccated continent, is already witness to record droughts, soaring average temperatures and plummeting catchments for the cities," he said.

"It may be a place to leave, not arrive, a place to be childless, not fertile - a withering society."

The professor said Australia is not on the "lifeboat register" but Ireland is.

"For this reason alone, Ireland must consider and cannot refuse to engage the climate crisis," he said.

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